Prep Your House for Your Home Inspection

February 1st, 2015

As a home inspector I am often faced with many items that prohibit a thorough home inspection. There can be many obstacles that a home inspector must overcome to thoroughly observe or test a system. Quite often observations are limited simply because there is no access or access is so limited that it would be unrealistic due to the amount of time it would take to remove the obstacles (the occupants belongings). Listed below are several ways that the seller can help prepare their home for the home inspection so the home inspector and potential clients may obtain a thorough and honest look at the home and its systems in order to make an informed buying decision.

Interior belongings

Prep-your-house-1-300x200.jpgThe most obvious limitation that a home inspector faces are occupant belongings. Quite often there has been an accepted offer on the home and the seller has already started packing boxes and moving their belongings. It is not uncommon to see rooms stacked floor to ceiling with boxes and the garage packed full of outdoor and lawn equipment. We understand that the belongings have to go somewhere, however, keeping them away from the walls and windows and any sort of mechanical devices or switches aids in the inspection. This will allow us to see any deficiencies in the wall as well as any of the mentioned systems. We recommend if you’re going to move storage boxes into a room that you put it right at the centre of the room and allow access along the perimeter walls.

Exterior Belongings

Several areas that need to be observed on the exterior of the home are so vital to a Home Inspection that I often move them regardless of the time it takes. However, if I am physically unable – it limits the inspection. One of the most important areas of the home is the foundation. If items are stacked up against the exterior, it limits what I can observe. Not seeing a deficiency in the foundation can be a huge disadvantage as well as potential unexpected cost. Remove all items away from the foundation and siding so the inspector can inspect these areas.

Clear Attic and Crawlspace Access

Perp-your-house-2-300x200.jpgIf you are ever wondering why there is a square on the ceiling of your closet (or hallway) it is probably the access door to the attic. The reason they are placed in the most inconvenient locations is because attics seldom need entry. They are usually not suitable for storage or occupancy. This often leads to shelving being installed under the hatch that requires special tools for disassembly or clothes and shoe boxes stacked high to the door. Removing shelving and clearing access for the inspector will allow an area to set up the ladder, and gain access to the hatch to enable entry. The crawlspace access door can also be on the floor in a cluttered closet or screwed shut. Providing clear access and removing belongings that would limit a clear look at the foundation is beneficial to the inspector.

Clearance Around the Electrical Panel

The main electrical panel for the home is usually located in the garage of a home built after 1980. If your house was built before then, it may be in the corner of the basement facing the street. If you still cannot find the steel panel you can go outside and either look for the overhead electrical wire coming to the house or electrical metre on the side of the home; it is usually on the other side on the inside wall. The inspector needs access to this panel to observe and document many important electrical components of the home.

Furnace, Hot Water Heater, and Main Water Shut Off

This area is called the mechanical room and has many functions and pipes that need inspecting. The piping has been known to serve as clothes hangers while the furnace and water tank as shelving. Not only is this a safety concern, it also limits the inspection. Clearing these areas allows the inspector to remove necessary panels as well as observe and report their specifications.

Under The Sink

Although not as vital as the above mentioned systems, this is still an important area that needs to be observed. Amateur plumbing repairs can lead to escaping sewer gasses and leaking pipes that are areas of concern. It is not unusual for these systems to fail over time, and it is not a welcomed surprise for the new owner. Clearing these areas for the inspector increases his ability to accurately comment and evaluate these systems.

In Conclusion, a typical home inspection takes approximately 3-4 hours to complete. Preparing for the inspection can allow a clear and comprehensive evaluation as well as a detailed report of the home. This provides the buyer with the knowledge they need to make a well-informed decision. If you have any questions regarding your home inspection, or to book an inspection please give me a call.